Coach’s Intel: Swim Dogs Sprint Set

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here.

The following swim workout was submitted by the head coach and owner, Mark Johnston of the Colorado-based Swim Dogs. The set that Mark submitted is designed to help swimmers help learn the speed of their goal 100 freestyle time–

The athlete must determine what their split should be for the 3rd length of their 100-yard goal time. Let’s make it simple by saying that they want to split :15-seconds.

After a warm-up and speed transition, here’s the main set:

30 x 25s on :35 at goal pace.

If you miss your goal pace (:15-seconds), you sit the next one out.  At the end, you count total up the number (out of 30) that you missed and try to improve over time.

We do a set like this every two weeks, or so.  If the athlete makes all 30 efforts at the race pace split, the next time, they must hold :14.5.

It’s a very simple, specific set, and it’s fun when you have people going fast in both directions.

The key for the lane logistics is that swimmers must stay in their respective send off spot:  The first person ALWAYS goes first, and second person ALWAYS goes second (etc.), regardless of the end of the pool they are on.  Remember, as athletes sit out different 25s, they will be scattered on both ends of each lane.

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SprintDude9000
8 years ago

This is the exact sort of training that ‘ the infamous Dr. Rushall’ (sports scientist involved with Team Andrew Indie Swimming) recommends that swimmers do EVERY day. In my opinion, this kind of set is going to become more and more widely used over the next decade or so. It’s also very adaptable to other distances, not just sprint races.

Good post! 🙂

WHOKNOWS
Reply to  SprintDude9000
8 years ago

I believe that Jim Montrella was doing this back in the 70’s (maybe 60’s)

Anonymous
8 years ago

Rushall is taking over swim training in the US.

Question
8 years ago

Will Dr. Rushall give insight into making all athletes as big and as developed as Michael Andrew? I think as long as Andrew stays in the water he is going to get faster. What are his physical measurements?

SprintDude9000
Reply to  Question
8 years ago

Overtraining athletes at a young age can stunt growth and hinder the building of muscle mass. Whilst I appreciate that not all 14 year olds end up at 6’4″, I feel that his type of training probably has benefited his height and physique in some way or another (remember he does not lift weights at all) when compared to a traditional program.

question
Reply to  SprintDude9000
8 years ago

I agree in some regards, but a 14 year old that is 5′ and 70 lbs will have a tough battle training for the 50 and the 100. How is “overtraining” determined? I feel as long as Andrew swims on a consistent basis he will improve regardless of what “infamous” training he is doing. He is a talented athlete with awesome physical gifts.

Behike56
8 years ago

Let’s take a look at this from the perspective of a D1 Sprint Coach…

If I have an athlete whose goal time is 41.0, am I to expect him to hold 10.7 for 30 x 25 on :35? Making just 10 unassisted would be a hell of a set.

In regards to Rushall & the USRP method…

I am an avid reader of Rushall and frequently debate the merits of his training. While it is interesting, and I feel that his work on the benefit of highly specific training targeting the exact neural pathway utilized in a particular event has merit, I feel there are limitations to the USRP method in practicality (see above) as well as his philosophy… Read more »

Behike56
Reply to  Behike56
8 years ago

Meant to say a goal time of 41.5

Anonymous
Reply to  Behike56
8 years ago

Behike56:
Since you read Rushall I assume that you are aware that if an athlete can actually do 10 in a row then that athlete is 1 due for a best time and 2 is almost ready for an interval reduction.
I usually do 5, then sit one out, and then only do about 3 in a row before having to sit one out.

I agree that is challenging for the hairy man. I assume Rushall’s retort might be more frequent shaving since he is opposed to the one big shave and taper meet per year.

C Martin
Reply to  Anonymous
8 years ago

I agree – this is a great set, but maybe after four you could consider a change in interval or goal pace.

You won’t be racing at 100 free pace for more than 4 x 25’s anyway.

Behike56
Reply to  Behike56
8 years ago

Based on my interpretation of Rushall (“my interpretation” being the key phrase), the USRP method would say that you should do a set like 30×25 until failure, then leave the set, do some technique work for a bit, and then come back to it. But based on my reading, Rushall would prescribe selecting an interval that would allow 20-25 reps at race-specific pace/tempo/breathing pattern…etc. So then…going back to the athlete w/the goal of 41.5, I need to pick an interval that would allow him to hold 10.7’s. To work with round numbers, I’ll throw out 1:00. Does 25×25 on 1:00 all at pace have a lot of relevance to a male collegiate sprinter? Do we really need to train at… Read more »

anonymous
Reply to  Behike56
8 years ago

BEHIKE56:
Yes, when you fail in the set you do leave the set for a while – but a while is actually only 30 seconds as opposed to an extended break. Dr. Rushall also advocates a 1:1 work to rest ratio so someone with a goal time of 10.7sec would actually use an interval no longer than 25 seconds. There are actually reasons which I really don’t understand why extra rest should not be taken but I only understand them enough to sound like an idiot. It has something to do with using your fast twitch muscles in an oxiditave state, as opposed to using your anaerobic system exclusively (CP-ATP).

Behike56
Reply to  anonymous
8 years ago

Completely agree with your thoughts on the 1:1 Work:Rest ratio…but if we hold ourselves to that premise, as well as only :30 of recovery after a failed attempt, we arrive at 20-25 x 25 on :22 holding 10.7.

That’s ludicrous.

SprintDude9000
Reply to  Behike56
8 years ago

Regarding swimming repeats until failure – this isn’t necessary. If an athlete can complete a set until he/she reaches, say 6 x race distance (ie. 24 x 25s @ 100m race pace without failure) then it’s pretty safe to assume the athlete in question will manage to PB in their next race and thus should be given a faster target time.

MVACoach
Reply to  Behike56
8 years ago

If you have swimmers in your program with goal times of 41.5 for 100-yard free, then good luck to you…Top two at NCAAs must be nice.

Behike56
Reply to  Behike56
8 years ago

SprintDude9000 —

Agree that swimming to failure is not necessary, just saying that Rushall says that when you do fail (and I would contend failure is inevitable when you are going 24×25 on :22 holding 10.7…1:1 work:rest) you leave the set and then come back once to try and continue.

Old sprinter
8 years ago

Nice set coach Mark. May give it a try sometime

SeenTheLight
8 years ago

Great discussion on race pace training. Don’t forget Mark’s overall point. The body performs differently at race pace. Practice what the body feels like to hold specific pace times. Too many coaches train to train and not to race. Mark’s point is coaches should consider training on specifics of the actual race. Set failure is a good thing. And, I’ve found this type of training is more enjoyable than pounding out endless yards. Go out and fail more often…

John Halgren
5 years ago

Training with methods backed by science (Rushall) vs. ancient methods that coaches are used to makes perfect sense. Too many times I see coaches pushing longer sets at slower pace for sprinters. MAKES ZERO SENSE. I love the idea of 30×25’s at race pace.

Some day the swimming world will catch up to the rest of the sporting world. Have you ever seen hockey players skating low intensity distances? No, not if they want to be FAST.

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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